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Stolen checks, credit cards net charges

GRANTS PASS ' Three people were arrested here Friday for their part in car and home burglaries in which they stole credit cards and checks ' then used them to buy merchandise in local stores, Grants Pass police said.

Police received a report Oct. 10 of a burglary of a home on West Harbeck Road in which credit cards and checks were stolen. The owners were away on vacation, and were contacted by their bank regarding suspicious activity having to do with their account. The victims discovered that their credit cards and checks were used at several local stores.

Video surveillance of the transactions was collected, but police were unable to identify the suspects. There was a lot of property, including the victim's car, taken during the burglary. The car was later recovered, police said.

On Oct. 17 Christopher Medlin, 30, was arrested at Check Cash Northwest while attempting to cash one of the stolen checks. He was lodged in the Josephine Jail on a forgery charge, police said.

Early the next day, a car was broken into in southwest Grants Pass. A purse containing checks, credit cards and cash was taken, along with other items. The victim saw the break-in occurring and called police. The suspects escaped before police arrived. The victims soon learned that their credit card had been used at Wal-Mart. Again, video surveillance tapes were collected. The tapes showed two suspects, a man and a woman, police said.

— The suspects returned to the Wal-Mart on Oct. 19 and attempted to return items to the store for a refund. They had bought a new subwoofer the day before and were returning an old one in the new package. They were identified by a Wal-Mart employee as being the possible suspects in both the residential burglary and the car break-in. The employee called police who detained the suspects at the store, police said.

The suspects were positively identified and were arrested and charged with multiple crimes. A search of one suspect's car revealed items taken during the home burglary, police said.

Police then executed a search warrant at a home at the 2200 block of Fruitdale Drive. Police discovered more property taken during the burglaries. A woman living at the home was arrested on an outstanding warrant for parole violation. The home had been searched in September by police for a case involving kidnapping, robbery, assault, drug possession, felon in possession of a firearm and theft, police said.

The suspects, both Grants Pass residents, were identified as Michael James Ellis, 25, of the 300 block of Shetland Drive, Grants Pass, and Louana Marie Eastep of the 500 block of South East M Street. Both were lodged in the Josephine County Jail on charges of fraudulent use of a credit card, identity theft, computer crimes and theft.

Police are still searching for additional property stolen by the suspects. Anyone with information regarding these crimes is asked to contact Grants Pass detectives at 541-474-6370.